An Indian national, who is a permanent resident of Singapore, was on Thursday sentenced to 10 weeks in jail by a court for defaulting on his compulsory National Service (NS) for more than five years and remaining outside the country without valid exit permit.
The National Service (NS) is compulsory for male Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) who are above 18 years of age.
Thirumal Pavithran, 25, failed to register on time for the NS and defaulted on his NS obligations while completing his secondary and university education in India for over five years.
The total period of time that he spent outside Singapore was five years, seven months and 16 days.
Thirumal, who finished serving NS last month, pleaded guilty to four charges under the Enlistment Act, the Channel News Asia reported.
He was born in India and became a permanent resident of Singapore in June 1997, when he was three years old.
Thirumal studied in primary and secondary schools in Singapore from 2001 to 2009 but left for India to continue his studies in May 2009.
In November 2010, he became subject to the Enlistment Act.
He completed his university education in India in June 2016 and returned to Singapore and reported to the Central Manpower Branch. Thirumal enlisted into full-time NS and completed his full-time service in May.
Thirumal, who was unrepresented, told District Judge John Ng in mitigation that he thought he was only liable for NS from the age of 18.
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse," said the judge.
The Ministry of Defence had said in a statement in May, when Thirumal was charged, that it takes a firm stand against those who commit offences under the Enlistment Act.
"All male Singapore citizens and permanent residents have a duty to serve NS," it said.
"If we allow Singapore citizens or PRs who are overseas to evade NS or to choose when they want to serve NS, we are not being fair to the vast majority of our national servicemen who serve their country dutifully, and the institution of NS will be undermined," it said.
For failing to fulfil his liabilities under the Enlistment Act, Thirumal could have been jailed for up to three years and a fine maximum of SGD10,000, or both.